Getting assistance to apply for health insurance in the new marketplace

If you are confused about the process to purchase health insurance in the new marketplace, help is available. Each state has either Navigators, certified application counselors or assisters to help you.

Applying for health insurance for the first time can be a daunting task for someone who has never had to choose a health plan. It can be confusing and a little intimidating. The Affordable Care Act states all Americans need to be enrolled in a health insurance plan by March 31, 2014.

But where can you get help if are not sure how to begin the process?

Each state has individuals who have been trained in helping people make an application. These assisters will help you understand your health coverage options and help you enroll in the Marketplace. They are known as Navigators, application assisters or certified application counselors. Some local and government agencies such as medical access coalitions, rural health clinics and state Medicaid offices are also helping. If you are a Native American Tribal Member, the tribal health clinics are also set up to assist. You can visit https://localhelp.healthcare.gov/ to find help in your area. You can search by zip code or by city and state to find help in your area.

Before you make an application, you can first see if you may qualify for any assistance by using a Cost and Savings Calculator. This calculator will take your income and household size and apply it to the eligibility standards and let you know if you are potentially eligible for assistance. You can also preview plans and prices available to you in your area. These two tools will help prepare you for making a final decision on a health insurance plan. If you are uncomfortable in making the application or have any questions about the process, you can contact a Navigator in your area for assistance.

Michigan State University Extension is providing weekly webinars to teach people about making a Smart Choice when purchasing health insurance. The webinars are held each Monday at 9 am, 3 pm, and 6 pm. at http://connect.msu.edu/healthinsurance.